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Footprints in the Breed: The Caversham Pekingese Tony Rosato (Morningstar)

As we all know, many breeds have evolved considerably over time, though certainly not all. The Japanese Chin, for example, has changed very little over a period of centuries. Yet it is a close cousin to the Pekingese and both were classified as the same breed in England in 1898. Its noteworthy to compare how the two breeds that were once so similar ended up looking so different because the Peke changed so radically. If you want to have a clearer picture, there is a beautiful Chin from 1903 preserved in the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum in i Tring that could win in the show ring today.

Japanese Spaniel of the early 1900's, Ch. Kiku of Nagoya. But you certainly couldnt say that about Ah Cum (see photograph below), one of the first Pekingese champions from 1904 and an important sire, whose stuffed remains share that museums cabinet space with the same preserved Chin. With his protruding muzzle, long legs, short back and short dark red coat, Ah Cum would be considered someones nice house pet today or perhaps another breed altogether.

The stuffed remains of the Pekingese founding sire of the breed, Ah Cum, in the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum in Tring, England. Bred in the Imperial Palace in China and imported by Mrs. Douglas Murray about 1896.

Ch. Goodwood Lo Improvements in Pekingese conformation came gradually of course, and you can track the progression and note which kennels were responsible for the most progress. Breed history points to the celebrated kennels of

Alderbourne, Toydom and Caversham among those which stand out for the leading sires and winners they produced.
But it was the Caversham dynasty that would rise to the greatest heights by the 1950s and 60s because the kennel produced not only the breeds biggest winners and record holders of the 20th century, but sires that literally became pillars of the breed. With the use of Alderbourne and Caversham sires, we began to see major improvements with better heads and much more coat than ever before. A glamour factor was emerging. Those combined characteristics flourished when breeders began to linebreed to the Caversham dogs. By the time the Caversham kennel was hitting a high, it had captured the interest and imagination of Pekingese breeders worldwide. But the name Caversham went even further and became emblazoned overseas into the psyche of the entire American dog show world when Ch. Chik T'Sun of Caversham (pronounced "Chick Sun" -see photograph below) came onto the scene. Chik TSun made a huge mark as Top Dog All Breeds in America back in the late 1950s and early 60s, having won 169 group firsts and 126 Best in Shows. Many American judges today remember the dog and comment on his showmanship and accomplishments in his day. His show record was a phenomenon at the time since there werent nearly as many shows in America then as there are today, and few dogs traveled by air or out of their geographic area as they do now.

Ch. Chik TSun of Caversham in 1957, handled by Clara Alford Consequently, Chik TSuns record remained unchallenged for twenty-two years. This gave our breed a unique distinction throughout the world, since no breed has held an all breed Best in Show record that long. Chik T'Sun topped off his remarkable winning record and sealed his reputation by becoming the first Peke to win Best in Show at Westminster in 1960. But theres much more to the Caversham story that had a sweeping impact on the breed. So lets take a look back at some of the highlights of the Caversham period and identify some of the important links to the dogs in todays pedigrees. The Caversham kennel was in existence in England from 1921 until 1967 when Caversham breeder, Miss Mary de Pledge, passed away. Early on in her career as breeder, she relocated her kennel to Shinfield Court in Reading in 1927, where she established what she called perfect kennels for the Pekingese with more space than her previous residence at Caversham Court . At that time her dogs were still the old type, very short coated and leggy, yet cobby with good faces. The more abundant, longer coat factor began to slowly emerge in

the breed sometime in the 1930s and 1940s when the Cavershams and Alderbournes appeared on the forefront of that evolution. For a few years, from 1948-1955 Miss de Pledge was joined in partnership by Herminie Lunham, later Mrs. Frank Warner Hill, who wrote a book and published a number of photos of some famous Caversham dogs. Its titled Pekingese - Herminie Warner Hill, published by Foyles. Mrs. Warner Hill continued in the breed after Mary de Pledge died and her kennel was managed by Ruth Sheldrake of the Newabri affix. Unquestionably, one of the most famous Caversham dogs was of course CH Caversham Ku Ku of Yam who became the benchmark for modernism in the breed. Until recently he was represented in the yearbook of The Pekingese Club as the model of the breed standard.

CH Caversham Ku Ku of Yam long time CC record holder in the Breed with 40 CCs and seven all breed Best in Shows. Grandsire of Chik TSun Ku Ku also held the record of all breed Bests in Show for the breed in the UK until the Crufts 2003 BIS winner, Ch. Yakee Dangerous Liaison, broke that record. Ku Kus CC record held for 48 years and was broken in 2006 by CH. Delwins Paddy OReilly who won 41 CCs under 41 different judges. In 1956 a big winning son of Ku Kus was born in the USA named Ch. Bettinas Kow Kow (photograph below) who ranked #4 in All Breed ratings in 1961. Kow Kow was out of a black bitch imported from Britain in whelp to Ku Ku named Caversham Black Queen of Orchard House. Kow Kow won 23 Best in Shows, Best at Progressive Dog Club all Toy show in New York three times, Best of Breed at Pekingese Club of America summer specialty at Westchester and 71 Group Firsts.

Ch. Bettina's Kow Kow There were a number of other Cavershams and Caversham-sired dogs exported to America that did extremely well for leading breeders, such as Dorothy Quigley of Orchard Hill kennels in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, whose winning record in the breed spanned nearly forty years. Jack Royce (Dah-Lyn) was another with Ch. Kai Jin of Caversham who won fifteen Best in Shows. Then too, Edna Voyles traveled to England and took back to America a dog from Jean Eisenman called Muffie, Ch. Jamestown Kan Jin of Caversham (photograph below). Muffie was barely 8 pounds and made a significant contribution to Ednas Cho-Sen breeding program in Louisville, Kentucky.

Edna Voyles Ch. Jamestown Kan Jin of Caversham Edna also handled the one of the best sons of Chik TSun, bred in the UK and known as Int. Ch. Chik Tu of Pepperstiche (photograph below). An exceptionally glamorous dog who had a career in Europe before going to America, Chik Yu gained his title in three days by winning three Group Firsts in a row, just 68 hours after arriving in the United States.

Int. Ch. Chik Tu of Pepperstiche, bred in England and exported to Belgium and America. Sired by the famous Chik T'Sun. While Ku Ku was taking the name of Caversham and the breed to new heights in England, Chik T'Sun of Caversham won a Reserve CC before going to North America in 1956. He won his first Best in Show in Canada while still in puppy coat under Mr. William Kendrick, who always loved the dog throughout his career and never denied him a Best in Show. Chik TSun was bred by Miss de Pledge and Mrs. Warner Hill and was owned in America by Charles and Christine Venable of Atlanta, Georgia, who were very active in Atlanta Kennel Club. Chik TSun was handled by Clara Alford who gave him impeccable care for the four years they traveled together on the road. It may be because Chik TSun was always traveling and died not long after his career ended, he didnt have the opportunity to be used much at stud. He did, however, produce 17 champions from litters in the US, Canada and the UK, such as the Pepperstiche dog just mentioned. Chik T' Sun's call name, by the way, was "Gossie," short for Gosling. Whatever there was about waterfowl that captured the imagination at the time, it must have been trendy since there was another very famous Peke of Caversham lineage before him known as "The Duck." (photograph below)

"The Duck" (sired by a Caversham dog), winning BIS at Progressive Dog Club in New York, ownerhandled by Mrs. James Austin. Judge Mr. William Kendrick. Anna Katherine Nicholas, President, on right. "The Duck" has the distinction of being the first consistent Best in Show winning Pekingese in America, winning 26 all breed Best in Shows which was quite an impressive record in the 1940s. The Duck's registered name was Ch. Che Le Matsons Catawba and he was an English import sired by Tai Choo of Caversham. Tai Choo also sired a dog in the UK called Yung Tai Choo of Caversham who was a prolific sire and the grandfather of Ch. Twee Choo of Caversham, (photograph below), a small short-bodied dog with a wide expressive head who had a lot of influence in the breed in England and the US.

Ch. Twee Choo of Caversham. Owned by Mrs. P.M. Mayhew (Mingshang) Mrs. James Austin, who imported "The Duck" from England, had a large Peke kennel on Long Island, New York, in the 1930s and 40s known as Catawba. She had already introduced the Caversham name to America with Ch. Tang Hao of Caversham Catawba who won the group at Westminster in 1937. Both Mrs. Austin and her husband were prominent fanciers with separate kennels and the finest of many breeds of dogs, including some big winning hounds and terriers. Her husbands Smooth Fox Terrier, Ch. Nornay Saddler, for example, was the winner of 56 Best in Shows including Morris and Essex in 1941 over 3,874 dogs. But Mrs. Austin was devoted to Pekingese and believed they should be raised to have "terrier temperaments," the idea being that coddling them could make them soft in temperament and keep them from having a showy attitude in the ring. Another Caversham dog in the North America was Ch. Caversham Ko Ko of Shanruss (photograph below). This dog went Reserve Best in Show at Windsor owned by Miss de Pledge before being exported to North America where he was owned by Mrs. Sauders Meade. He had some good wins but unfortunately died prematurely.

Ch. Caversham Ko Ko of Shanruss Reserve Best in Show at Windsor For whatever reason, not all winning dogs have a positive impact on the gene pool of their breeds as we all know. Yet that is where the Cavershams have earned their reputation in breed history and stood the test of time. The Cavershams formed the basis for many important strains in the breed such as Laparata (based on close linebreeding to Caversham sires), Changte, Loo Foo, Copplestone, Goofus, Linsown, Singelwell, Cherangani, Micklee and many others. All of these kennels greatly influenced Pekingese breeding on a global scale. Of all the Caversham-bred strains, perhaps none was more influential than Jamestown, which is based on relatively close, well designed linebreeding to one of the most important Caversham sires, Ch. Ku Jin of Caversham (photograph below). Ku Jin was a third generation all breed Best in Show winner who was Ku Ku's most famous son. He was short backed with a high tailset, heavy boned and thickset, and may have been more influential in the gene pool than his sire Ku Ku. Both Ku Jin and his father had open, uncrowded, beautifully expressive faces with large, full, wideset eyes and plenty of coat of correct harsh texture.

Ch. Ku Jin of Caversham, third generation all breed BIS winner. If you study a 5-generation pedigree of Ch. Yu Yang of Jamestown (photograph below) you can see how the Caversham influence works through the Ku Jin son, Jin Chi of Caversham (also below). What strikes you is how Yu Yang's masterfully constructed pedigree was engineered by breeder Jean Eisenman --- all linebred to Caversham.

Ch. Yu Yang of Jamestown

Jean Eisenman's Jamestown Jin Chi of Caversham, a key figure in Yu Yang's pedigree.

In turn, Yu Yang became the dog that formed the basis of or heavily influenced several other kennels that had a major impact on the breed worldwide.

The same could be said of Yu Yang's grandfather, Ch. Fu Yong of Jamestown (see below) who was sired by Ch. Ku Jin of Caversham. May Robertshaw (Lotusgrange) was one of the first to use Fu Yong and said he was a dog ahead of his time. This important sire also became popular and influential in the North American gene pool when he was exported to Charleen Prescott in Ohio and later Ken Winters in Canada (Manticore), who used Fu Yong to advantage in developing a successful strain.

Ch. Fu Yong of Jamestown Another great little Caversham dog in the mid to late 1940s was Ku Kus father, Ch. Ku Chi of Caversham, (photograph below) who was one of the biggest winners in the breed with 32 CCs. Owned by the de PledgeLunham Caversham team, Ku Chi was a small, compact 7.5 pounder, heavily coated with a quality, expressive headpiece for his day. American breeder-judge, Dorothy Quigley (Orchard Hill), awarded Ku Chi a challenge certificate when she judged The British Pekingese Championship show in 1949 and called him a supreme little showman.

Ch. Ku Chi of Caversham, winner of 32 CCs Id like to call attention in particular to Ku Chis size, because his compact dimension was seen as ideal and was more the norm than the exception in those days, as well as for decades before and after. We regularly hear respected dog people talking about keeping true to the original purpose of the breeds. So we should remember that one of the ancient allures of our breed has been wrapped up in smallness. Thats the way the Chinese bred them. Thats how they came over from China, and thats how the founders of the breed and leading breeders for decades promoted them. Caversham included. Not forgetting that just over 20 years ago, Best in Show at Westminster went to an 8-pound Pekingese. In Ku Chis case, we're talking about what we call a miniature today. That big winning little Caversham dog was the grandfather of the far bigger winning North American Peke, Chik T'Sun. In fact Chik T'Sun was doubled on Ku Chi, who many today have no idea was just seven and a half pounds. Ku Chi makes the case for breeding from small stock and reminds us of why the US breed standard today states that all weights are correct within the limit of 14 pounds. Ku Chi was bred by the Pekingese and Shih Tzu breeder in the UK, Mrs. Elfreda Evans of the Elfann affix, who also bred another famous Pekingese sire, the unusually heavy coated dog for his time, Ch. Yu Tong of Alderbourne. Both Ku Chi and Yu Tong were sired by the popular stud dog and famous cream, Puff Ball of Chunking, who was the product of a half-brother-half sister mating. There is some controversy with Mrs. Evans in the American Shih Tzu world with respect to her contributions to the Shih Tzu gene pool through the well-known 1952 Peke/Shih Tzu cross sanctioned by The Kennel Club. Registrations were granted after several generations of documented purebred Shih Tzu breeding. Its worthwhile exploring the question as to whether, or how much, off-the-record experimentation went on with crossbreeds in various kennels in Britain long before the official Peke/Shih Tzu cross became approved. The Terrier world alone is brimming with accounts. Piecing together the facts may shed light on the question of how Pekingese

developed profuse coats when the foundation stock after all had short coats. Genes for long coat did not express the trait for about sixty to seventy years after the breed was established in Britain. Looking back at the Caversham influence, it is clear that of all the successful Caversham dogs that are remembered in history, its Ku Ku, Ku Jin, Ku Chi and Chik TSun who tower above them all. Some would add to the list Jamestown Jin Chi of Caversham since he was a key figure in important pedigrees, and particularly in the creation of Ch. Yu Yang of Jamestown in the 1960s who turned out to be one of the greatest sires of all time. What is significant about these dogs and the distinguished breeding programs like Caversham that produced them, is that it that reminds us of a time in the breed when there were individual strains. These strains took years to develop and were bloodlines that breeders could rely on, or at least had a better than average chance of getting what they wanted, if they used the dogs from certain families. Some today believe that there are no more strains, while others disagree. Certainly strains in the Pekingese world dont exist to the extent they did 40 years ago because the dynamics that influence practices in the dog show world have changed and keep evolving. But one thing is clear. The breeders who developed the strains many decades ago left their imprint on the breed, an imprint which blossomed into a more glamorous image by the 1950s --- when Hollywood had Marilyn Monroe and the Pekingese was on its way to the top. Pekingese went on to claim a lions share of the spotlight in the Toy group as well as the all breed world with the Caversham dog Chik TSun, whose show record was so spectacular in America that it held for over two decades. The record was eventually broken by a dog in another glamour breed, the white Standard Poodle, Ch. Lou Gins Kiss Me Kate. But it took 46 years to break the breed record for Best in Shows, and that was done by Ch. Yakee If Only in 2005 who ended his career with 128 Bests. The impact of the Cavershams says something about the ingenuity of one great lady in Britain, Mary de Pledge, who created a line that made a remarkable difference in her time and on the breed thereafter. She did that by making the right decisions and choices which continually upgraded her stock and the breed. Looking backing on important breed history such as this should leave us with an appreciation for what our breed has accomplished and the traits we have to work with today, thanks in large part to the talent and the hard work of yesterdays breeders. But it should also help todays breeders of Pekingese and other breeds understand that the world of possibilities is always wide open, so we must always keep aiming higher. That brings to mind a point that AKC Chairman Ron Menaker said, reminding the fancy of what is at the heart of it all: Breeders are the backbone of the sport, he said. Certainly Mary de Pledge and her Cavershams are the shining example of that. And so are all the breeders of yesterday, today and tomorrow who have been and continue to be dedicated to upgrading the quality of their breeds.

Mary de Pledge winning with Ch. Ku Chi of Caversham

Mary de Pledge winning BIS with Ku Ku at Paignton

Tony Rosato January 2007

Tring Museum can be found on the web at: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/museum/tring/galleries/gallery6.html